Revilla proposes tax on video streaming, digital services amid health crisis

Robie de Guzman   •   May 20, 2020   •   382

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla said he has filed a bill seeking to impose taxes on digital content and services to boost the country’s national economic recovery plan amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

In a statement on Wednesday, Revilla said he filed Resolution No. 410 calling on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and other appropriate panels to conduct an inquiry into the possibility of collecting taxes from “multinational online streaming services and the digital economy in general.”

“We need to embrace the digital revolution of our time, and to comprehensively review and update our existing tax laws regarding digital economy,” Revilla said.

The senator believes that the revenues raised from digital taxes could “finance the national economic recovery plan, especially the rehabilitation of severely affected industries, and the construction of ‘Schools for the Future’ which are equipped with digital technologies and laboratories.”

He also pointed out that Filipinos are recognized as “voracious online users” who are said to typically spend around 10 hours of their time in the internet, exceeding the global daily average of six hours and 42 minutes.

“Filipinos spend at least 3.3 hours daily watching online content on mobile devices,” he said.

Revilla also said that some of the most technologically-advanced countries such as Norway, Australia, Japan, France, South Korea, United Kingdom, Singapore, and Malaysia have already adopted and passed their respective versions of digital service tax laws.

“Habang patuloy po ang pagpapatupad natin ng quarantine measures tulad ng social distancing at pagbabawal sa mass gathering, at sa pagpasok nga po natin doon sa tinatawag na ‘New Normal,’ tiyak pong mas marami tayong kababayan na gagamit ng technology-based services tulad ng mga online streaming at online market,” he said.

Revilla pointed out that while local online businesses have already been covered by the country’s taxation laws, multinational corporations with more sophisticated technological capabilities, less physical presence yet wider reach may have to be properly taxed given the outdated provisions and leakages in tax measures.

A similar proposal was recently filed in the House of Representatives by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda.

Finance Department eyes tax on digital services

Marje Pelayo   •   May 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance (DOF) is looking into the possibility of imposing a tax on digital services. 

The proposal which the DOF is now discussing with its attached agency, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), aims at collecting taxes from online revenue-generating services like online selling and streaming.

During the Senate hearing Wednesday (May 20), Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government has no information yet as to how much these digital platforms earn in their transactions. 

Thus, the DOF is looking into ways on how the government will be able to tax online companies like entertainment portal Netflix and commercial website Lazada. 

Just recently, House Committee on Ways and Means Chair Congressman Joey Salceda filed a bill that seeks to tax digital services in the country including what he called ‘network orchestrators’ or the ride-hailing services Angkas and Grab.

Salceda’s bill targets to raise P29.1 billion in revenues.

Some senators opt out of COVID-19 testing

UNTV News   •   March 20, 2020

Senate of the Philippines facade

Although Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri has announced he tested positive for COVID-19 despite being asymptomatic, some senators have opted not to undergo a COVID-19 test.

Senators Risa Hontiveros and Kiko Pangilinan have decided not to go through COVID-19 testing, saying they are not manifesting any symptoms and are strictly following protocols given by the DOH.

Some of their co-lawmakers have already taken the test including Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senators Grace Poe, Imee Marcos, Pia Cayetano, Ramon Revilla Jr., Francis Tolentino and the first two senators who initiated to undergo self-quarantine, Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Nancy Binay.

Senator Christoper Bong Go has also undergone COVID-19 testing with President Rodrigo Duterte who came out negative. — by Harlene Delgado

Jinggoy Estrada expresses high hopes of acquittal for plunder after Bong Revilla

Marje Pelayo   •   December 7, 2018

 

FILE PHOTO: Former senator Jinggoy Estrada

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Former senator Jinggoy Estrada couldn’t be happier for his friend former senator Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr.

On Friday (December 7), the Sandiganbayan acquitted Revilla of plunder charges in line with the multi-billion Priority Development Assessment Fund (PDAF) or ‘pork barrel’ scam in which Estrada was a co-accused.

Estrada said he was speechless as he personally heard the decision during the promulgation of the case.

Now that his good friend is a free man, he only has one advise for Revilla.

“Walang nararapat na salita para i-express iyong nararamdaman ko ngayon. Spend more time with his family dahil apat na taon din siya nakulong and we’ll hit the campaign trail soon,” he said.

Estrada is on temporary liberty after posting P1.33-M bail in September 2017. The anti-graft court said that though they found irregularities in the disbursement of Estrada’s PDAF, there is no strong evidence to show that he is a main plunderer.

Along with Estrada, another co-accused former senator Juan Ponce Enrile was granted bail due to old age. Enrile was then 92-years-old.

Despite Revilla’s victory in the case, legal expert and dean of San Beda College of Law, Atty. Ranhilio Aquino, explained that though the three senators – Revilla, Estrada, and Enrile – were all accused in the same plunder case, the anti-graft court’s decision may still vary.

“Cases are decided on their own merits so I’m sure that the courts will decide on the merits of each case. The issue of one does not necessarily affect the other cases,” Aquino clarified.

Also in some cases, Aquino noted, that despite the acquittal, the court still demands the suspect to pay for his civil liability such in the case of Revilla wherein the court requires them to return a total of P124-M to the national treasury.

“Criminally you need proof beyond reasonable doubt. Civilly, you only need preponderance of evidence so mas mababa ang standard of proof for civil cases,” he explained further.

Still, Estrada said he has high hopes that his case will yield the same results as that of Revilla.

For now, he leaves it to the court to decide.– Marje Pelayo (with reports from Mai Bermudez)

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